Hard Light Magic

with 14 Comments

Hard Light Magic
by Syndee Rogers-Nuckles

Want to add texture to your photos? Quickly blend a photo and texture or background using the Hard Light blend mode.

Step One: Prepare the Workspace

  • Open a texture or background (File > Open) of your choice. This technique works best with a light colored texture such as the one shown below.
  • In the Menu Bar, choose File > Duplicate. Click OK.  (Photoshop: Choose Image > Duplicate.)
  • Close the original texture (File > Close).
  • Open a photo (File > Open).

Here is the photo and texture I will be working with. If you’d like to try the tutorial using the same photo and texture I’m using, click here to download.


Step Two: Blend the Photo and Texture

  • Get the Move tool.
  • On the photo document, click on the photo and drag it on top of the texture document.
  • In the Layers panel, if the photo layer is not the top layer, click on the photo layer and drag it above the texture layer.
  • On the document, click on the photo and move it until you are happy with it’s position.
  • If you need to transform the photo, press Ctrl T (Mac: Cmd T) to get the Transform options. In the Tool Options, make sure Constrain Proportions is activated, then raise or lower either the Height or the Width. Click the checkmark to commit.

Now to create the magic!

Step Three: Change the Blend Mode

  • In the Layers panel, click on the photo layer to activate it.
  • Change the Blend Mode to Hard Light.
  • (Optional) Lower the Opacity of the photo layer to suit your taste. Mine is set at 100%.

Your photo should now have the texture or background showing through.


Step Four: Flatten and Save the Image

  • Press Ctrl E (Mac: Cmd E) to merge the photo and texture layers together.
  • Save the photo (File > Save As) as a .jpg with a unique name.

The image is now ready for you to use in any manner you wish.

I created a card with my blended photo and texture. Just by adding a stroke frame and word art I created a beautiful card in minutes!


Here is another example of a flower photo blended with an old wall texture. This one has a real artistic feel to it.


Don’t limit yourself to only using photos. Dig through your digital kits and pick out some papers and elements and see what you come up with.

These two examples were created using products available in the Digital Scrapper Store.



I hope this inspires some Hard Light magic on your pages and projects! Make sure to post your creations in the Digi Scrap Tutorial Gallery. I’d love to see them!

Page & Photo: Syndee Rogers-Nuckles, The Morgue Files
Kit: After Five kit by Susie Roberts, and Me Personally kit by Amanda Taylor
Software: Photoshop Elements 14, Adobe Photoshop CC 2015


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Syndee Rogers-NucklesAuthor: Syndee Rogers-Nuckles | Contact Us
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14 Responses

  1. Jessie
    | Reply

    Love the look of the textured flowers. However, I’m a bit of a newbie on some of these techniques. I understand about putting the stroke outline on it for your finished product, but how did you make the clear background? Did you re-open the photo of the flower and layer the textured flower on top and resize it a bit smaller and then add the stroke? I resized my flower when I first tried the exercise and then the flowers wouldn’t line up very well. Just wondering which steps you took. Thanks, Jessie 🙂

    • Syndee Rogers-Nuckles
      | Reply

      Hi Jessie,
      I just used a duplicate photo layer at actual size behind the textured flower layer and resized the textured layer so that the photo layer behind was visible. HTH!

  2. Carol (Iowan)
    | Reply

    Thanks for the great tut and practice items. Are more textures is the featured kits? I was not sure I could see any. If not could you point us in the direction of others. I think this is something I would do a lot.


    • Syndee Rogers-Nuckles
      | Reply

      There are background papers in the kits that you can use the technique on, they will all look differently depending on your photo and the color of the background. Look for papers that have a really noticeable texture. Another thing you can do is take photos of concrete, bark, fences etc… and use those with this technique – really makes for some interesting effects! Also, you can do a search for royalty-free textures.

  3. ellie
    | Reply

    Thanks so very much, Syndee, for your always fantastic tutorials, and thanks also for the goodies included to try them out! How beautiful! When I follow along with the tuts, I’m always so totally amazed at the results! It really is just like making magic!!! What fun . . .

  4. Julie LaPoint
    | Reply

    Thanks so much – this is a fun and easy tutorial. I can’t wait to try it! Since I’m doing the cards for a year class, this will be such a handy technique!! 🙂

  5. Mariane
    | Reply

    Thank you so much Syndee. That was a lot of fun and I’m off to change many more. Love your work.

    • Syndee Rogers-Nuckles
      | Reply

      Glad you are having fun with it Mariane!

  6. Ruth
    | Reply

    Syndee you are so cleaver I wish I could scrap like you, These are just beautiful Thank you

    • Syndee Rogers-Nuckles
      | Reply

      So glad you enjoyed the tutorial Ruth!!!

  7. Terri
    | Reply

    Wow! These are awesome. I’ve got to try your ideas. Thanks for sharing your talent.

    • Syndee Rogers-Nuckles
      | Reply

      Thanks so much for the compliment Terri!

  8. Jen Juris
    | Reply

    Syndee – this is fabulous!! 🙂 Love it!

    • Syndee Rogers-Nuckles
      | Reply

      Thanks Jen!

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